Posted on Feb 14, 2013, 6 a.m.
Being married and cohabiting improve a person’s prognosis of acute cardiac events both before hospitalization and after reaching the hospital alive, particularly among middle-aged couples.
A large population-based study from Finland reports that being unmarried increases the risk of fatal and non-fatal heart attack in both men and women whatever their age. Conversely, especially among middle-aged couples, being married and cohabiting are associated with "considerably better prognosis of acute cardiac events both before hospitalization and after reaching the hospital alive". Aino Lammintausta, from Turku University Hospital (Finland), and colleagues studied 15,330 cases of acute coronary syndrome among persons aged 35–99 years in Finland in 1993–2002. The register recorded 15,330 acute coronary syndrome events over the study period of ten years, with just over half (7703) resulting in death within 28 days. Events occurred almost equally among men and women. However, the analysis also showed that the age-standardized incidences of these acute coronary syndrome events were approximately 58–66% higher among unmarried men and 60–65% higher in unmarried women, than among married men and women in all age groups. Further, the differences in 28-day mortality rate were even greater. These 28-day mortality rates were found to be 60–168% higher in unmarried men and 71–175% higher in unmarried women, than among married men and women. Consistent with this finding, the case fatality rate of 35-64-year-old single men and women was higher than that of those living with one or more people. Concluding that: “Single living and/or being unmarried increases the risk of having a heart attack and worsens its prognosis both in men and women regardless of age,” the study authors submit that: “Most of the excess mortality appears already before the hospital admission and seems not to be related to differences in treatment of [coronary syndrome].”
Aino Lammintausta, Juhani KE Airaksinen, Pirjo Immonen-Räihä, Jorma Torppa, Antero Y Kesäniemi, Matti Ketonen, et al; and FINAMI Study Group. “Prognosis of acute coronary events is worse in patients living alone: the FINAMI myocardial infarction register.” European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, January 30, 2013.